What follows is (part of) an imagined interview with Peter which seeks to bring out the key elements in Jesus’ style of transforming leadership development.
Interviewer: Thanks very much for agreeing to take the time to talk with me. I know you are a busy man and I will try not to take too much of your time.
Peter: You are welcome, and not to worry – I’ve got all the time there is. I really don’t think of myself as busy anymore.
I: Right. Now, Peter…on earth we are going through a transition right now. Many of our older leaders are getting ready to come and join you, and we have quite a crop of young ones coming along. We know the Lord left behind a first generation of leadership that has never been equaled. We want to find out how he did it…
P: Of course. But I have to make two things clear at the outset. First, he never called us leaders. He never used that word. “Disciples,” yes. “Apostles,” yes. Most often “servants”. Never leaders. Second, I am not so sure I would go along with you in thinking we were such a great crop. The raw material Jesus chose wasn’t that promising to start with. We missed the mark a lot. I know I made more than. My share of mistakes. I’ll let the others speak for themselves, but you know we didn’t always get along that well…
I: Peter, your words in 1 Peter 5:1-6
have been quoted again and again as a classic statement of the values of leadership. Give me a bit of background as to what was in your mind when you wrote that.
P: …I guess we were in a situation like yours. Many of us older ones had been around a long time, and we knew we weren’t going to be there forever. Our senior leaders, our elders, had been working a long time. Some of them were just plain tired and ground down and had lost their motivation. A few, I felt, had lost the heart of their work and were just doing it because they were paid to do it. Some who had been in office a long time really were lording it over others. They wanted everyone to bow to them and serve them and do what they said, and jump at their every order. At the same time, we had a crop of young turks coming along who felt that the older leaders had lost their vision and served their time and ought to step aside and let them take over. They had some great new ideas, but they were impatient, aggressive even, and if they could they would have pushed the older men into retirement.
Now, that’s not the kind of leadership I saw in Jesus…not what he taught us to be. We all had the same tendencies, but he taught us to think a different way.
Next week: Peter speaks of what it means to be a called leader.
Taken from Transforming Leadership by Leighton Ford. ©1991 by Leighton Ford. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com